Sunday, March 26, 2006

install a linux live cd to a hard drive

I have installed several linux live cd's to hard drives. Some of these have been knoppix, pupply linux, damn small linux, and easymepis. In each case I found that the install took a very short time (10 to 20 minutes) and that I had ended up with a fully functioning system. Usually, I then added additional software to the system with whatever pacage manager facility was included.

Sonce these live cd installs basically copy an image to a hard drive, rather than install each application as is the case with the typical install of a major distribution, the time needed for the install is short. If one is reasonably happy with the live cd, then it makes a lot of sence to just install it to a hard drive rather than spend the couple of hours installing one of the full featured distros. If one also has a high speed internet connection, then updating via apt/synaptic or whatever package manager is available is a snap and shouldn't take much time. On my laptop, after I installed easymepis, I spent another few minutes installing a few games that I liked and I was done. All the packages I like to use were included in the live cd.

The typical livecd (especially thoes that are knoppix based) has qtparted available to resize a ntfs partition as well as doiing the usual partion setup and format functions. Most have an install script (e.g. knoppix-installer in knoppix) that will set up the user account and passwords etc. and will install a boot loader in the mbr or in the root partion. I have found that these scripts are easy to understand and use.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

linux on toshiba a105-s1013 laptop - use simply mepis

A month ago I got a toshiba satilite a105 1013 laptop computer. I like the machine quite a bit and I wanted to put linux on it. As is often the case with laptops, putting Linux on can be problemsome.

I tried a lot of livecd distributions. Puppy Linux 1.8 and DSL 2.2 did not boot. Knoppix cd 4.02 did work but without sound. I installed it in a Hard drive partion (dual boot machine) after using qtparted to resize the win xp ntfs filesystem.\, but I kept looking for a livecd that would provide sound as well as work with my wifi card. Knoppix, using ndiswrapper was able to connect to my wireless router but it was a bit slow and had problems with firefox.

I later tried slax livecd linux (booted ok, but had a hard time with network). Sound was OK but the maintainers had pulled the hard disk install feature. I then tried vector linux. I could not get the network stuff to work with ndiswrapper and the windows drivers for my wifi card. I then tried Kanotix. Sound was ok, but the network stuff only worked once in a while and was very slow. It installed on the hard drive fine, but the network problems really defeateded me.

Finally I tried Simply Mepis and it all worked fine. It even detected my wifi card and used ndiswraper to set it up - I did't have to do anything except setup the essid and key parameters. I installed it on the hard drive with the provided utility. The pdf user's guide on the mepis web site is really good. I was able to play videos and music.

I should note that knoppix is the base for simply mepis but the mepis folks took out some stuff and replaced it with more hardware detection and setup features. There is only one desktop (kde - which is what I like to use anyway) and very few games (none are the ones I like). I used synaptic &/or the kde package manager to get what I wanted without any problems - dependencies were taken care of and everythin installed without any problems. Knoppix remains the gold standard and provides a great base for other's to develop specialized versions.